The Birth of White Australia

The Battle of Lambing Flat

The Lambing Flat rebellion of 1861 was one of the major stepping stones to the establishing of the White Australia Policy.

The White miners on the goldfields were being swamped by droves of Chinese, who were entering the Australian colonies in their thousands. Like many White immigrant miners, the Chinese were attracted by the lure of the goldfields, and therefore it was expected that this Chinese flood would continue. The White population were facing the possibility that Australia would be overrun by these people by the sheer weight of their numbers. The miners did not want large numbers of Chinese to be allowed into the country.

The White miners were unimpressed by the Chinese miners' poor standards of hygiene, their pagan ways, and opium smoking. They were also angered by the wasteful use of water (which was in short supply) by the Chinese. Also, as the Chinese had entered the goldfields in such large numbers, it was seen that these alien hordes were taking over the gold producing areas that otherwise would have been available to the existing mining population. This was damaging the economic prospects of the White miners. However, it was the racial and cultural issues that were most important. At Lambing Flat, matters came to a head; racial tensions heightened; and the resultant clashes were inevitable.

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